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Quantifying Emissions Right


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A holistic approach to assessing the climate-positive effects of ICT.

A holistic methodology is necessary for assessing the potential reduction of CO2
e emissions. Life cycle assessment (LCA) is a well-established method and can be used for comparing emissions created in different scenarios. Standardized LCA methods can be used to identify solutions with the lowest CO2e emissions.

They provide society as a whole with the methods to assess a large number of possible solutions, to quantify the magnitude of potential reductions, and to show where these reductions could take place.

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Quantifying Emissions Right

  1. 1. ericsson White paper284 23-3193 Uen | February 2013Quantifyingemissions righta holistic approach to assessingthe climate-positive effects of ICTA holistic methodology is necessary for assessing the potential reduction of CO2e emissions. Life cycleassessment (LCA) is a well-established method and can be used for comparing emissions created in differentscenarios. Standardized LCA methods can be used to identify solutions with the lowest CO2e emissions.They provide society as a whole with the methods to assess a large number of possible solutions, to quantifythe magnitude of potential reductions, and to show where these reductions could take place.
  2. 2. A holistictransformationClimate change is one of the major global challenges of our time. To prevent it from severelyimpacting almost every facet of life in the world, scientific consensus points to a need to reducethe emissions of greenhouse gases (GHGs) – measured in terms of CO2 equivalent (CO2e) – byas much as 80 percent by 2050. Often the focus has often been on making incremental reductions to CO2e emissions in areaswhere levels are at their highest, without it having a negative impact on the economy. But thereis also an important – and to large extent still untapped – opportunity to drive economic growthby implementing transformative solutions. To achieve the scale of reductions needed to slowclimate change, we must replace traditional methods, processes and systems with smarter, moreefficient ones. In many instances, these solutions are enabled by the ICT sector, and broadbandconstitutes the foundation of a resource-efficient infrastructure that can deliver many differentservices in a low-carbon way. Unless we take a holistic view, however, we risk of ending up with ineffective solutions forclimate mitigation. Collect data Assess CO2e impacts Define processes and boundariesFigure 1: Overview of the process of assessing climate-positive solutions.Quantifying emissions right – A holistic transformation 2
  3. 3. The first step in quantifying emissions is to determine where they occur and to understandtheir current levels. Once emissions levels and the areas where reductions could be madehave been identified and assessed, it is possible to change operating models, supportsystems and behaviors. It is here that the ICT sector plays an important role. Figure 1 showsa scale. The message conveyed by this illustration is that the same function can be deliveredeither in a new way, which has the potential to transform society and its carbon dependence(represented by the light scale pan), or based on traditional services (represented by theheavy scale pan) with emissions that are reduced only in an incremental way. A holistic methodology is needed to understand the complexity of large industrial systemsand user behaviors, and ultimately for assessing the potential reductions of CO2e emissions.The LCA methodology constitutes a well-established methodology for assessing potentialCO2e emissions, and can be used for comparing the emissions originating from differentscenarios. Particularly, it could be used for comparing a situation involving the adoption ofICT with a reference situation – that is, when using existing conventional systems. Ericsson considers LCA to be an excellent tool for identifying opportunities to improveenvironmental performance and for understanding the potential impact of new solutions. Incontrast, LCA is not suitable for quantitative product benchmarking and product performancelegislation. This is because of uncertainties in data and modeling – which are an intrinsic partof the methodology – due to the complexity of the reality this methodology is used to assess. This paper acknowledges the importance of LCA – especially its ability to provide anunderstanding of the carbon abatement potential of ICT solutions by presenting: how standardized LCA methods offer a holistic approach to assessing the potential reduction of future CO2e emissions to identify solutions with low CO2e emissions that can replace traditional solutions the results of two case studies.The holistic approach offered by LCA is especially useful for evaluating the potential of ICTsolutions to reduce CO2e emissions in other sectors not traditionally associated with ICT.Indeed, the LCA-based case studies are used to illustrate how the introduction of an ICTsolution can reduce CO2e emissions.Potential of ICT to reduce overall CO2eBy replacing physical products with services, and by helping people to use resources moreefficiently, ICT-based solutions can improve basic services while reducing CO2e emissions.Within the realm of ICT, broadband provides the most effective foundation for a resource-efficient infrastructure that can deliver many different services in a low-carbon way – forinstance, via machine-to-machine, machine-to-human or human-to-human communication. The SMARTer 2020 ICT industry study [1], published in December 2012 by the Globale-Sustainability Initiative (GeSI), estimates that ICT-enabled solutions have the potential toreduce annual emissions of GHGs by 16.5 percent (9.1Gt CO2e) by 2020. In economic terms, ICT-enabled energy efficiency translates into potential savings ofabout USD 1.9 trillion. ICT-enabled carbon efficiency can be introduced through a varietyof solutions, such as: virtual meetings smart buildings cloud computing e-health (health care informatics over the internet) and m-health (mobile e-health) smart grids smart logistics and intelligent transport systems e-learning (technology-enhanced learning) and m-learning (mobile e-learning) dematerializationQuantifying emissions right – A holistic transformation 3
  4. 4. Taking aholistic viewHistorically, several methods have been used to analyze the effect of introducing ICT solutionsto replace traditional services and thereby reduce CO2e emissions. However, few studies havebeen designed to include all possible aspects of potential impacts and reductions. In many cases,stakeholders have tended to focus only on particular stages and activities of the life cycle of theassessed ICT solution – for example, the electricity consumption of products during operation.Furthermore, many studies have included only user equipment and left out the impact caused bythe network infrastructure. Scenario-based studies have however demonstrated that comprehensiveLCAs are, in fact, necessary to enable a thorough understanding of the environmental impact ofICT solutions. During the past year, the availability and quality of methods used in LCAs of ICT applicationshave much improved as prominent standardization organizations have produced standardsdesigned to provide guidelines on performing LCAs of ICT-based products, networks and services(in this paper, all of these are referred to as ICT solutions). These initiatives, which are supplementaryto the International Organization for Standardization’s ISO 14040 [2] and ISO 14044 [3] standards,include: the European Telecommunications Standards Institute (ETSI) standard ETSI EE TS 103 199 Life Cycle Assessment (LCA) of ICT equipment, network and services; General methodology and common requirements [4] the International Telecommunication Union (ITU) Recommendation L.1410 Methodology for the assessment of the environmental impact of information and communication technology goods, networks and services [5].These standards include requirements on how to assess the first order environmental impact ofan ICT solution (that is, the impact stemming from activities associated with the actual manufactureand use of a product, network or service) as well as its second order environmental impact (thatis the changes in impact of traditional services which are enabled by the ICT solution). Since these standards are now in place, the industry should increase the use of comprehensiveLCAs to help the stakeholders of the society gain a deeper understanding of the potential of ICT-based solutions to reduce CO2e emissions. The adoption of holistic LCA methodologies: enables companies to prioritize between ICT solutions based on their impact on sustainability enables and guides policy makers to support balanced decisions regarding sustainability provides a means of making comparisons between ICT-based solutions and other kinds of solutions helps to place the focus on the total level of energy usage and CO2e emissions and to highlight the potential for CO2e reductions in business cases, thereby showing the benefits of investing in ICT.Quantifying emissions right – taking a holistic view 4
  5. 5. Assessing thepotential of ICTTo quantify the potential of ICT solutions to reduce CO2e emissions, it is necessary to assess, from a lifecycle perspective, the environmental impact of both the ICT solution and the conventional system of whichit reduces the impacts (hereafter called the reference system). For instance, an ICT solution such as videoconferencing may reduce the need for travel. In our studies, we have found it important to include thepotential impact of network infrastructure when making such assessments. Access to ICT has a direct and measurable impact on society, the environment and economicdevelopment. In some cases – depending on the ICT solution – it might be necessary to consider bothfixed and mobile broadband to analyze the total environmental impact of the solution.The standardized LCA methodology provides a systematic approach to the assessment and comparison Reference system ICT based system • Definition of goal and functional unit • Definition of scenario Definition of system Definition of system boundaries boundaries LCI LCI LCIA LCIA Comparision interpretationFigure 2: Calculation procedure for the comparative assessment.(Source: ETSI TS 103 199 [4]. ITU-T L.1410 [5] includes a similar figure)of the cumulative environmental impacts of two different systems. The assessment includes: the definitionof a system’s goal and scope, functional unit and system boundaries; inventory and data collection (LCI);and impact assessment (LCIA). Finally, it includes the comparison of the systems and interpretation ofresults, see Figure 21. This paper briefly describes the main activities involved in an assessment, but the reader is encouragedto refer to the previously mentioned standards for more details.1 In Figure 2 the term “ICT based system” is used to denote the assessment target, which could be an ICT product, network or service (in other words,an ICT solution).Quantifying emissions right – Assessing the potential of ICT 5
  6. 6. Definition of goal, functional unit and system boundariesThe first thing to do is to define the goal and the functional unit applicable to the assessment.The functional unit is a reference unit for the results of the LCA – for example, results couldbe presented per meeting or per year of operation. The functional unit needs to be applicableto both the ICT system and the reference system. The next step is to define both the ICT system and the reference system with respect tothe processes and boundaries. The assessment boundaries are made up of the processesand boundaries of the ICT solution to be analyzed and the reference system it impacts. Toset the scope of the analysis it is necessary to understand the changes in use of otherservices that result from implementing the ICT solution. The scope of the assessment includes the emissions from the use of the new ICT solutionas well as its embodied emissions. In the same way, both direct (operational) and embodiedemissions associated with the reference systems should be considered if possible. Forinstance, for a travel- and transport-based system, the assessment includes processessuch as extraction, production and distribution of fuels, production of vehicles, and operationof infrastructure for all travel and transportation associated with the solution – for example,airport operation.Life cycle inventory (LCI) and definition of scenario for the ict solutionWhen assessing the ICT system a number of areas need to be considered. Some examplesare given below. When assessing a mobile-broadband solution, it is important to take intoaccount: the volume of associated data traffic user profiles and behavior, including types of mobile devices being used the characteristics of mobile-network access the core or transmission network and specified data centers.Fixed broadband has many different user profiles with individual types of PCs, modems,or home-network setups. Access sites and data traffic may be aggregated to form a totalor average ICT solution user profile for all users or for an entire company, organization orregion. By comparing the amount of data associated with a specific ICT solution and the totalamount of data handled by the network, a fair share of the network’s impact could beallocated to the solution and included in the assessment. For data centers, this kind ofallocation is appropriate. For some equipment, such as PCs and mobile phones, the usetime is a more relevant basis for allocation.This table presents some examples of elements to consider for user equipment. Important elements to consider Comments Type of user equipment (PC, This information is needed to model manufacturing smartphone) impact and operation characteristics Use time and standby operation This is used to determine electricity consumption. The actual performance depends on user behavior Electricity consumption for The type of access and the use time are used to network access quantify network access. Data traffic cannot be used because most electricity consumption relates to network access standby Electricity mix in the region studied All electricity consumption during the use stage can be related to the specific regionTable 1: Important elements to consider when assessing the CO2e emissions of user equipment.Another important activity to consider is the impact of the operator’s business activities(network operation and maintenance).Quantifying emissions right – Assessing the potential of ICT 6
  7. 7. LCI of the reference scenario – CO2e emissions profiles for travel, transportand the use of buildingsFigure 3 outlines the CO2e emissions related to travel and use of buildings based on publisheddata, and illustrates specific kinds of impacts related to such activities. The distribution of emissions for car travel is valid for most kinds of road transport, but thecontribution made by manufacturing varies with vehicle lifetimes. In the same way, the profilefor air freight is similar to that given for air travel2. However, compared with air travel, less of theimpact of airport operation and construction can be allocated. The profiles presented here are generalized. To make more specific assessments, one needsto know the type and amount of energythat is consumed by the reference systemand so on. Percent 100Data collection and calculation ? High uncertainty 80Data for both systems is collected from a /pkm (/tonne*km)variety of sources, such as LCA databases, 60field studies and statistics published viaoutlets such as government-agency 40websites. In order to compare different ? 20systems, it’s crucial to collect real-world ?data relating to the use of the assessed 0service in the reference system as well as Car travel Fuel supply Car Road Otherswhen ICT is adopted. If real-world data is manufacturing infrastructurenot available, the systems could be Percentmodeled based on similar solutions. Also, 100scenarios are useful for enabling a deeper ? High uncertaintyunderstanding of how service usage 80impacts the climate. /m2 (/person) 60 The availability of published LCA datafor the infrastructure of reference systems 40– for example, the production of cars and ?construction of factories and roads – is 20limited. Also, there is little published data 0available on road infrastructure (such as Building Fuel supply Energy supply Building Renovation etc.street lighting, gas and service stations, operation constructioncar dealers, and parking facilities) that canbe linked to road transport. In some casesit may therefore be necessary to consider Percent ? High uncertaintythe full life cycle of the ICT solution, but 100 ?only the use stage of the reference system 80– in other words, the fuel consumed by a /pkm (/tonne*km)car and so on. With this approach, the 60estimated saving potential when applyingthe ICT solution may be underestimated. 40 20 0 Air travel Fuel supply Airport Aircraft and Others operation and airport ground transport construction Figure 3: Average CO2e emissions related to car and air travel, as well as emissions related to use of buildings.2 In the diagram, the bar “Others” for air travel represents the uncertainty that exists with regard to various other GHG emissions and theiruncertain effects attributed to aircraft, including high-altitude emissions and their effects.Quantifying emissions right – Assessing the potential of ICT 7
  8. 8. For the ICT solution, some LCA data about mobile- and fixed-broadband networks and productshas already been published. For example, for quite some time, Ericsson has performed LCAsrelating to communication networks (including mobile phones), and there are also studiespublished on PC assessments, for example. It is recommended for assessments to include the fuel- and energy-supply chains – in otherwords, the stages of extraction, production and distribution. The same models and data couldbe used for both the reference system and the ICT solution.Life cycle impact assessment (LCIA)If data is available only in the form of figures relating to energy, fuel consumption and so on,recalculation into CO2e emissions is done using well-founded emission factors.Comparison of systemsAfter the CO2e assessment for each system is complete, it is possible to compare the twoscenarios and evaluate the potential of the ICT solution to reduce CO2e emissions. The totalresults of the analysis give the potential reduction in CO2e between the systems, which couldbe expressed as a reduction ratio. The reduction ratio represents the direct and embodied CO2e emissions from the ICT solution,set in relation to the potential savings in direct and embodied emissions that the ICT solutionenables. To fully understand the results and what they imply, the effects of uncertainties introduced bythe data, adjustments, allocations and scope limitations must be analyzed.Quantifying emissions right – Assessing the potential of ICT 8
  9. 9. ConclusionOne of the most significant ways of achieving substantial reductions in CO2e is by shifting froma high-carbon physical infrastructure to a low-carbon virtual infrastructure based on the evolvinginformation society and smart technology – what we call ICT. Much of the focus to date has been on reductions in sectors with high-carbon emissions, suchas energy and transport. However, it is just as important to understand how rollout of low-carbonsolutions and their enabling infrastructure could affect CO2e emissions. Investments in broadband,for example, are paving the way for ICT solutions, such as the increased use of virtual meetingsto enhance teleworking; the rollout of telemedicine services; and smart homes, where energymanagement plays a central role in replacing traditional high-carbon solutions. To support the transition to a low-carbon Networked Society, it is necessary to understandthe extent to which new solutions will reduce CO2e emissions. This paper stresses the importance of taking a holistic view based on LCA methodology whenassessing CO2e emissions, and acknowledges the usefulness of the ICT-specific LCA standardswhich have been developed by ITU-T [2] and ETSI [1] for this purpose. Ericsson has studied several services, calculating the potential of ICT solutions to reduce CO2eemissions compared with traditional solutions. Armed with data from such holistic assessmentsand the standardized methodologies now available, society can finally begin to: assess a large number of solutions understand the magnitude of reductions (including infrastructure changes over time) understand where these reductions could take place.Quantifying emissions right – conclusion 9
  10. 10. Case studiesConnected buses in Curitiba, BrazilSolutionIn the 1970s Curitiba, one of Brazil’s largest cities, decided to invest in a Bus Rapid Transit (BRT)system to improve its public transport infrastructure. The BRT system included dedicated buslanes, platforms to enable level boarding, payment before travel, fewer stops, communicationwith a central transit authority, and coordination with traffic symbols. Now, Curitiba is transformingits BRT system by embedding mobile-broadband modules in city buses and bus stops, connectingthem directly to an HSPA network. This is interesting from an environmental perspective becausethe benefits that this brings to passengers may help to attract more people to the BRT system– people who have used private vehicles to date. Further, the optimization of the traffic flow ofthe system – for example, avoiding using buses where not needed, as well as being able tosupport eco-driving – also leads to lower fuel consumption.ScopeIn this case study, an LCA of the CO2e emissions related to the BRT system in Curitiba wasconducted. The assessment covered both the environmental impact of the ICT solution, as wellas of the service it potentially replaces. To refer back to the holistic approach outlined in thispaper, the BRT system with the embedded mobile-broadband modules is the ICT solution studied,and the BRT system without this ICT solution applied is the reference system. The ICT solution has just been introduced and its effects can therefore not be measured atthis stage. “What if…?” scenarios of the ICT-enabled efficiencies are therefore investigated togain a better understanding of their abatement potential. For the reference system, it is estimated that commuters complete on average 2.3 million tripsper working day, riding the 1,928 BRT buses that are on the road. The operation of each vehicleproduces approximately 100 tonnes of CO2e of direct emissions annually, which equals a totaldirect emission level for the bus fleet of about 200,000 tonnes. Additionally about 30,000 tonnesof embodied CO2e from fuel extraction, production and distribution is considered in theassessment. The cars driven in Curitiba (there are about 850,000 of them), produce about1,500,000 tonnes of direct CO2e each year, and their fuel supply is estimated to add another300,000 tonnes CO2e. The embodied emissions of buses, cars and road infrastructure were not considered in theassessment. The analysis of the ICT solution included the impact of the ICT modules located on each busand in bus stop equipment, as well as in the centrally located ICT system. The ICT solution oneach bus – which includes a computer, reader, validator and console – consumes an average of20 watts (0-40W). The central ICT solution (including employees, data centers, servers and soon) consumes on average about 4,750W. The central ICT solution operates on low-carbon (mainlyhydro) electricity, but the ICT module in each bus operates on diesel-generated electricity. One important assumption is that the embodied impact for the ICT solution is estimated basedon the impact caused by similar reference electronic equipment and products. The total ICT solution is estimated to emit about 500 tonnes CO2e annually including both thedirect and embodied emissions (see Figure 4). If the bus operation of the reference system can bemade 1 percent more efficient in terms of fuel use (and CO2e), the potential direct CO2e savingswould be about 2,000 tonnes CO2e per year or 2,300 tonnes CO2e per year if embodied emissionsare also taken into consideration. Furthermore, if car travel in the reference systems can be reducedby just 0.1 percent, the potential related direct reduction of CO2e would be about 1,500 tonnes peryear or about 1,800 tonnes CO2e if embodied fuel-supply emissions were also considered. The graph in Figure 4 shows the impact of the ICT solution and the savings it could enable inother sectors according to the assessed scenario. The table also shows the impact of the ICTsolution but compares it to the impact of the bus operation and car travel in the reference scenario.Quantifying emissions right – case studies 10
  11. 11. Result Tonne CO2eIn this case study a potential reduction Embodied ICTscenario for CO2e is studied for the city of 1,000 Direct (operation)Curitiba’s Bus Rapid Transit (BRT) system, Fuel supplywhich creates a transformative solution by 500embedding mobile-broadband modules incity buses and bus stops, and connecting Bus operation Car travel 0them directly to an HSPA network. ICT solution The total impact for the ICT solution isestimated to be about 500 tonnes CO2e -500annually, including both direct andembodied emissions. If the bus operation -1,000of the reference system can be made 1percent more efficient (1 percent less fuel -1,500used for the same amount of passengers),or if car travel in that system can be reduced “What if car travelby 0.1 percent or even 1 percent, reduction -2,000 can be reducedratios of 1:4, 1:3 and 1:30 respectively by 1%?”would be experienced. -2,500 “What if buses can operate 1% more efficiently?”Mobile money in Kenya -3,000SolutionIn rural areas in developing markets such Total absolute emissions: tonne CO2eas Kenya, the banking infrastructure islimited. This makes it necessary to travel to Direct and Direct embodiedthe nearest town to pay for water andelectricity and to refill a mobile-phone ICT solution 500prepaid account. Making a loan repayment requires a day- Bus operation 200,000 230,000long expedition to the nearest bank – 12kmaway – if the money sent from relatives Car travel 1,500,000 1,800,000abroad has arrived. With mobile money, all this can beachieved without leaving home, making it Figure 4: “What if…?” scenarios for connected buses in Curitibaunnecessary to travel. The three main usecases are: money transfer, local paymentand bank services. When the study was made, there were 6,5 million subscribers who carried out 10 millionbanking transactions a day, with an average total value of USD 20. These figures have increasedsince then.Quantifying emissions right – case studies 11
  12. 12. ScopeIn this case study, the ICT solution includes the use of the mobile network and mobile phonesto perform the transactions required in the different use cases. The application software isassumed to be deployed in a data center, including power, cooling, building infrastructure andso on. The same applies to the back-office call center. The reference situation means that individuals are forced to travel from rural areas to morecentral villages and bank offices in the cities in order to make payments and carry out other banktransactions. Typical transactions include money transfers and bill payments, among others. The primary enabling effect of mobilemoney solutions is that there is a reducedneed for bus travel (or car travel, which is Sender in town Local agent Village peopleundertaken in some cases, but is notconsidered in this study). Even thoughbanking is usually a coordinated effort fromthe village (one individual may make the tripto handle banking errands for several otherpeople), this results in extensive travel andalso security risks. Secondary enabling effects include the Money transfer using local agent Bank servicepotential reduction in the number of buses Local paymentneeded because fewer trips will be required.A related effect is also that the road system Distancewill last longer and that extensions ofcapacity can be limited. By spreading the Figure 5: Mobile money use cases.use of the mobile money solutions andsimilar ICT solutions, the need to have cashin circulation would be drastically reduced,as would other aspects of the bank-related infrastructure like bank offices, ATMs and so on.However not all the potential secondary effects have been included in the case because weconsidered an implementation in one operator network. On a larger scale and with a longer-termperspective, they would warrant consideration.The result of the case study is based on a mix of secondary and modeled data. The followingassumptions were made: money transfer: one to two transactions a month per subscriber 1,000 agents travel to town on behalf of subscribers; one person normally handles money for five people in the reference scenario local payment: one payment a month made using the mobile solution for three to four bills (distance to local town or agent for utility, water phone company on average 2km each way, traveling by bus); normally a payment takes half a day bank service: one bank service every six months (loan payment, microfinance) bank branches: one per 1,000km2; on average, 12km away, bus travel.ResultAltogether, the impact of the reference Tonne CO2e/yearsystem may be reduced by up to 22kg of 35,000CO2e emissions per subscriber a year forthe three use cases of the ICT solution, 2,100 Bus travel 0while only adding 0.34kg of CO2e per ICT solutionsubscriber a year for the solution itself. Theabsolute reduction would be about -35,000140 tonnes CO2e per year if adopted by 6.5million subscribers in Kenya, while only 2.1 -70,000tonnes would be added emerging from theICT solution itself. -105,000 The potential reduction of the assessedscenario corresponds to a reduction ratio -140,000of 1:65 – in other words, for each kg of CO2e -140,000added by the solution, a 65kg CO2e Figure 6: The potential impact of mobile money solutions.reduction potential is enabled.Quantifying emissions right – case studies 12
  13. 13. GLOSSARYCO2 carbon dioxideCO2e carbon dioxide equivalentETSI European Telecommunications Standards InstituteGeSI Global e-Sustainability InitiativeGHG greenhouse gasISO International Organization for StandardizationITU International Telecommunication UnionITU-T ITU Telecommunication Standardization SectorLCA life cycle assessmentLCI life cycle inventoryLCIA life cycle impact assessmentQuantifying emissions right – glossary 13
  14. 14. References1. SMARTer 2020: The Role of ICT in Driving a Sustainable Future, Global e-Sustainability Initiative, GeSI, 2012, available at: ISO 14040, Environmental management – Life cycle assessment – Principles and framework, International Organization for Standardization, 2006, available at: ISO 14044, Environmental management – Life cycle assessment – Requirements and guidelines, International Organization for Standardization, 2006, available at: ETSI TS 103 199 – Environmental Engineering (EE), Life Cycle Assessment (LCA) of ICT equipment, networks and services; General methodology and common requirements, European Telecommunications Standards Institute, 2011, available at: L.1410 – Methodology for the assessment of the environmental impact of information and communication technology goods, networks and services, International Telecommunication Union Telecommunication Standardization Sector (ITU-T), 2012, available at: emissions right – references 14